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2/26/2003
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Sockeye's Tiered Access Saves Money

Global Route 3.0 lets companies balance traffic loads across ISPs for better efficiency and reduced cost.

As IT executives harden their networks, one important step is multihoming--subscribing to several Internet access providers and sending balanced traffic loads to each. The trick is knowing which provider to use when.

Sockeye Networks Inc. next week will unveil an updated version of its Global Route product to help solve the problem. Version 3.0 has two key features: software that analyzes and acts upon various ISP billing plans and a suite of reports aimed at CIOs.

Global Route assesses line conditions for each provider and sends traffic down the most-efficient path at that time. In previous releases, customers had to calculate the effects of each ISP's billing plans and manually enter thresholds to tell Global Route where to send the traffic to get the best prices and performance. Version 3.0 automates that process. IT managers enter terms, such as the billing plan's number of tiers, whether the pricing is fixed- or usage-based, and whether traffic can burst above the access speeds.

DigitalWest Networks, a Web-hosting and co-location provider, has used Sockeye's offering to manage access lines from four providers since September. "It's been able to keep us in certain bandwidth tiers without affecting performance," chief technology officer Josh Richards says.

The tool also has improved overall performance of DigitalWest's Internet access. Performance with Global Route doubled from what it was when Richards relied on Border Gateway Protocol to route traffic. He's able to validate that with reports that also come with the 3.0 release, which shows current and historical performance data on all of the ISPs, a valuable tool when renegotiating ISP contracts. The reports show metrics such as which ISPs have the most performance problems or outages and which require the most rerouting.

Unlike competitors RouteScience Technologies Inc. and netVmg, Sockeye doesn't sell the product but instead charges about $4,000 per month per location. The 3.0 upgrade is free to existing customers.

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